The Late Movies: Springsteen on the Ukulele

Last week, I stumbled upon Uke Springsteen's MySpace. Uke, who by day is Pat Healy, is a one-man cover band, using his ukulele to strum out renditions of popular Bruce Springsteen songs. (His remix of "Atlantic City" rivals The Band for best cover of the iconic song.) Perhaps not surprisingly, Uke is not alone in his hobby. Here's nine clips of other Bruce-lovin' ukulele players.

"Thunder Road"

Sam Love Kemp describes herself as an "amateur ukulele enthusiast." Along with her college buddy, Erika Strandjord, Sam hits open mic nights around Iowa with her ukulele, a Red Cedar Concert ukulele from Mainland Ukes. Here, she covers "Thunder Road," one of her favorite Springsteen songs to listen to while driving. She based her ukulele arrangment of the 1975 hit off Bruce's performance on MTV UnPlugged.

"State Trooper"

Sam's pal Erika performs her dad's favorite song since he couldn't see her at a recent open mic.

"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)"

This version of "Rosalita," one of Springsteen's most upbeat tunes, is surprisingly mellow thanks to Kevin's ukulele.

"Born To Run"

Performed by a true uke enthusiast (as evidenced by the 10—10!—ukuleles hanging on the wall behind him), this version of "Born To Run" comes with the added bonus of a kazoo blasting out the iconic first chords of Springsteen's most famous tune.

"The River"

Laura O' Callaghan, Eamon Cagney, Maria Falsey, Eoghan Judge, Thomas Doyle and Owen Sutton perform the title track from Springsteen's fifth album. O'Callaghan is responsible for the uke and the vocals on this one and contributes to a truly imaginative cover.

"Hungry Heart"

Ian Brown and Stevo Corrigan, otherwise known as Two Blokes, Two Ukes, dedicate this version of "Hungry Heart" to their pal Ellie Daniels. Brown and Corrigan are also open to requests. (Another post for another day: Their version of Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" is quite entertaining.)

"Dancing In The Dark"

Uni covers the first single released off  Born in the U.S.A.—a song most notable for a very young Courteney Cox's appearance in the music video—in Bar Mendocino, Helsinki, Finland.

"Out In The Street"

After all these videos, have you been aching to learn how to play some Springsteen on your own uke? You're in luck! Mark made an instructional video for "Out in the Street." He also gives a quick but interesting crash course about the difference between a ukulele and a guitar, which is good trivia for any faithful Flosser.

"Growin' Up"

Mark also covers "Growin' Up," which some YouTube commenters erroneously believe is a song by the Beach Boys. In fact, "Growin' Up" was released in 1973 on Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and was featured in the 1999 Adam Sandler flick Big Daddy.




Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London

Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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